Today started with a shock. Debra Lynn Dadd sent an email to her mailing list that opened with this:
"For the next few weeks I'm going to be on a 10-city media tour. Proctor & Gamble is sending me out as their spokesperson to explain the environmental benefits of their new concentrated detergents, and I get to promote my new Really Green book, too."

Spokesperson for Proctor & Gamble? I thought there might be some other company with a similar sounding name, but no, she means THE Proctor & Gamble, the quintessential transnational consumer-products company that has a presence in almost every American and European home. That Proctor & Gamble. I'm stunned. I'm speechless. I can't believe she's serious. But I looked at Fox Morning News in Kansas City and sure enough, there she is, touting her book and a new P&G laundry soap.

Now, I suppose one way to look at this is that perhaps P&G is trying to make things more right. Maybe they're attempting to move in the right direction. I'm not buying it.

P&G is one of many companies that complies with the seventh amendment of the European Union's Cosmetic Directive which came into force in March 2005. This directive requires that all "products intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body" would henceforth be subject to scientific review. The seventh amendment mandates that chemicals determined to be carcinogens, mutagens, or reproductive toxins -- known collectively as CMRs -- be removed from cosmetics sold in Europe.

That's right, CMRs are prohibited from cosmetics that are sold in Europe. P&G still uses CMRs in products sold in the US. That tells me something very important. This new laundry soap is not enough.

It also tells me that I cannot support Debra Lynn Dadd. I assumed she was serious about helping us get out of the chemical soup. Nope. Not this way.

If you want to see the incredibly long list of brands owned by P&G, go here. It's staggering. I thought they owned L'Oreal, but it turns out Nestlé owns most of L'Oreal.



Slayde writes:

It is overwhelming, especially since I'm worried about cost as well. Judging from this and the previous post, I should probably stop buying bulk Garnier at Costco, and the cheapest linens I can find that aren't complete crap. So much to think about. It is unfortunate that being concerned about cost AND things like the environmental and human impacts of products makes shopping such a stressful experience. I appreciate all the information you pass along, though, making the research part that much easier for me and others.

It is overwhelming. That's the truth of it. When we stop believing the lies that are fed to us by company after company, when we wake up from our dream of beauty and loveliness and everything-is-fine, we are confronted with horrendous greed, unbelievable greed, terrifying greed. Why would anyone make a decision that involves the poisoning of human beings?

For me it has become a sort of mission or quest to become more of a human being and less of a consumer. When I stop thinking in terms of things and think in terms of living, life, creating, I find it simplifies the choices. The other day I was reading a blog by a woman who has committed to NO plastic in her purchases. Wow. NONE. I went around my house and looked at ALL the plastic that we bring home. Again, it's overwhelming. But it can be done. Eliminating harmful chemicals from your personal life can be done.

We are taking the first baby steps when we are willing to look. We must look first. That is the beginning of undoing the brainwashing. I have stopped wearing make-up, coloring my hair and worrying about the shape of my body. I don't know if I could do these things if I was 25 years old. It would certainly be harder, but still it's possible to let go of someone else's idea of what is beautiful.

And the money part should get easier too. What if I didn't own anything I didn't make myself? What if I pretend I'm living in the distant past, when there weren't trucks to haul products all over the country? What if I have to make, or find someone nearby who can make, the things I need? There's another important word: need. Consumerism is all about want, as in The Real Housewives of Orange County. How impossible it would be to live that way once you've opened your eyes.

Dear Slayde,

I understand about the difficult choices. I'm driving my husband crazy trying to "do the right thing." So we compromise, tell ourselves that even a small change is better than none and that we will try harder each day to make the best decisions. What else can we do? And the same goes for you. You've opened your eyes, you're willing to look at the hard stuff, and you acknowledge that you have a bit of responsibility in this whole thing. What else can you do?





L'Oreal and its offspring Garnier. I was doing some research about parabens, what they are, what they're in, what might be wrong with them. And, using SkinDeep, I discovered that all parabens are not created equal. There are some completely benign parabens that could be in your cosmetics, hair care and shower/bath products. BUT, there is also a really nasty, you-should-stay-away-from-it, paraben. It's name is SODIUM METHYLPARABEN. On the SkinDeep database there's a list of 163 products containing sodium methylparaben. The way the list works, the higher the number, the more toxic the product. In the #153 position is L'Oreal "Kids 2 in 1 shampoo, extra gentle, burst of fruity apricot." Not only does this shampoo contain sodium methylparaben, it also contains two other toxic chemicals -- one of them a known immune system toxicant. THIS IS A SHAMPOO FOR CHILDREN!

Here's the key thing: you must read labels, especially if you're the one buying products for babies and children. The companies that have not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics do NOT CARE about your children. They do NOT CARE that they are risking your children's future health. They do NOT CARE that they are risking the health of future generations.

Note: Just because a label doesn't say "sodium methylparaben" on it, doesn't mean it's not in there. This chemical goes by a dozen other names. I have adopted a simple rule since I cannot memorize all the possible names. If I need a degree in chemistry to read the label, I don't buy the product. Now, it may be that the things I cannot pronounce and have never heard of, are non-toxic, possibly even beneficial. But, at the moment I'm considering that product, I will put it back if it sounds like something made in a laboratory instead of something I could grow. I know that's too simplistic. Perhaps the thing to do is carry around A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter. I noticed that used copies are going for $.36 on Amazon.com.

There really is a lot to know about the stuff you put on your skin and in your hair and on your children's skin and hair. A lot. Too much actually. We shouldn't have to know all this chemistry. At least that's my feeling about it.

L'Oreal is a huge multi-national corporation. They do not care about you or your children. I wish I could write to and convince the beautiful actresses that do L'Oreal and Garnier commercials to stop promoting those products. Pretty unrealistic, huh? I love Penelope Cruz and Sarah Jessica Parker -- they're both wonderful. And it seems to me that neither of them NEEDS to do commercials. Why do they?



I mentioned buying real perfume and trying it out, right? I mentioned that it's different than commercially produced perfume, right? Did I mention that I love it? I picked a favorite out of the ten tiny samples I bought from Ayala Moriel. It's called Rebellius.
It is so incredible to put a drop on my wrist and then experience the layers of scent. There's the initial layer -- a burst of luscious fruit in a tropical jungle. That settles into "greenness" and finally, just as that fades, comes leather, cumin, and something else, very masculine. And this last deep scent doesn't cling to clothes or the air or the furniture. It slowly, but completely, dissipates. That is the BIG difference between real perfume and the other stuff. The other stuff has synthetic (and sometimes natural) ingredients added to it to keep it going. That's a large part of what makes that other perfume toxic: the fixatives used to prolong the evaporation process. Often coal tar is used and that's a known carcinogen. These unnecessary ingredients make the perfume linger in the air, but they also make the scent into fine particles that embed themselves into fabric and travel long distances in the air. Haven't you ever smelled someone's scent on their clothes? Or the perfume worn by someone on the other side of the room? Sure you have. (I can smell my neighbor when she walks from her front door to her car. Yuck.) I noticed that my new perfume doesn't do that and I really, really, really like that it doesn't do that. I like that the fragrance is so subtle only someone standing right beside me would notice it. I like that it doesn't bond to my clothes, my pillow, my favorite chair. I don't want to smell it when I've stopped wearing it.

Note: I've also been trying other products from that list (the one on the right with better-for-you products) -- soap and deodorant from FragranceFree Body Products; shower gel and shampoo from Terressentials; household cleaning goods from Seventh Generation. So far I like and will continue to use these new items. It's a different world -- one without harsh, harmful, toxic chemicals. And it's easy to think about making more and more changes. I invite you to join me.